For Immediate Release
Secretary Delivers Non-Resignation Address
by the Secretary from the US Department of Art & Technology
WASHINGTON, DC - On January 10, 09:05 AM (EST/GMT +5 hours) Secretary Randall M. Packer delivered the Non-Resignation Address prepared on January 3, 2005, the day President Bush unexpectedly announced the nomination of Edward Ruscha as the new Secretary of the US Department of Art & Technology. The address was delivered from Secretary Packer’s office at Department Headquarters in Washington, DC. Here, he challenges the political and cultural authorities that attempt to remove him from office, and hopes to minimize the danger that future artists could be pressured out of office and forced into oblivion without due process, a danger noted in this unusual draft.
The following is the transcript:
by Randall M. Packer
THE SECRETARY: Good morning. With the President’s nomination of Ed Ruscha completed and its confirmation awaiting action by the Senate, questions have been raised about my own plans for dealing with the President’s decision.
I have requested this time in order to tell you how I intend to proceed.
Debate on the President’s nomination is scheduled to begin on the Senate floor less than two weeks from today.
In the wake of the President’s decision, there has been a very substantial erosion of the political and cultural base that I would need in order to remain in office. Therefore, at this time it appears almost a foregone conclusion that there will be a vote in the Senate. Given Ed Ruscha’s reputation as an American icon who can reach and touch the Everyman, even our President, our nation is assured of having a new Secretary of the US Department of Art & Technology.
It is not my purpose tonight to argue my case. There will be time for that later. Rather, I want to explain how I intend to proceed.
I also want to tell you about new evidence I have discovered, which I recognize will not be helpful to my cause – but which I have instructed my attorneys to make available immediately to the Senate.
In the past several days, the President has been occupied with an intensive review of taped conversations recorded by the FBI and the Supreme Court's recent order that they be turned over to Judge Scalia. With one exception, I have found that they bear out what I said on August 30, 2004 when I announced my decision to send troops to the Republican National Convention, “demonstrating to the world that artistic forces could move at will.” The evidence turned over to Judge Scalia tells the full story of the Occupation of Madison Square Garden, insofar as my own knowledge or involvement is concerned. As these tapes become public, which they undoubtedly will, the truth of our cause will be evident.
There is a taped conversation I held with General Andrew Nagy on June 23, during our preparations for the installation of the Experimental Party DisInformation Center in NYC, which concerns my instructions with regard to coordination between the Department and the troops of the USA Exquisite Corpse. In reviewing the tape it is now clear to me that General Nagy and I did discuss agents from a renegade "Aesthetic Espionage" group known colloquially as the S.H.A.D.O.W, and that we were fully aware of the advantages this course of action would have with respect to limiting the possible exposure of persons connected with the Occupation plans. Because this conversation took place just a few days after my speech in Brooklyn to the Armed Artists of America announcing “10,000 Acts of Artistic Mediation," and shortly before my controversial appearance at the Freedom of Expression National Monument in downtown Manhattan, I know it will be widely interpreted as evidence that I was involved from the outset in planning efforts to shut down the Republican National Convention.
Let me turn now to the future.
There has been a great deal of speculation since the re-election of the President that I would resign, given my differences with the Administration. Some cite my challenge to the prevailing culture of fear and say that this either dims or dooms my chances in the new term. Some cite the costs to the nation of the use of art to advocate intervention during politically unstable times. Some say I should allow the Constitutional process through, because even if this shroud of darkness hanging over America could be lifted, I would be so weakened politically that I could no longer execute my sworn responsibility as Secretary to empower the disenfranchised and protect the nation's grip on reality during a second term in office.
Some suggest that if I persevere, I am not only ignoring what they consider the inevitable outcome – confirmation of Ed Ruscha with his verbal-visual witticisms and enigmatic drawings – but doing so at considerable artistic risk.
Indeed, when I reviewed the June 23 tape, and realized the interpretations that will probably be placed on it, I seriously considered resigning.
I have thought long and hard about all of these questions. If I were to resign, it would spare the country additional months consumed with the ordeal of realizing the President’s mission is to tame the US Department of Art & Technology with quiet tacticians in order to lead his dangerous agenda for cultural reform.
But it would leave unresolved the questions that have already cost the country so much in anguish, division and uncertainty. More important, it would leave a permanent crack in the American psyche. It would establish the principle that under pressure, an artist could be removed from office for challenging the status quo, the divine right of every artist. By establishing that principle, it would invite such pressures on every future artist who might, for whatever reason, attempt to create a world that rejects the notion of the sole possibility of the things that are, replacing them with what can be…
The months ahead will not be easy for any of us. But in the long run – whatever the outcome – far more damaging than the removal of a Secretary, would be the descent toward disintegration and chaos if artists could be removed from office for crimes of the Spirit!
In America, homeland insecurity has reached epidemic proportions. During recent years, the President has led a campaign against the East; in this theology of war, a terrible crisis grips the soul of the Administration; and now we stand on the verge of Armageddon: for as I announced in my "Speech for the End of the World" last October, he is leading us quickly and inevitably down the path to the day of reckoning. The horror.
The artist bears enormous responsibilities to the nation as a mediator on the world stage. If we are to meet those responsibilities in this and future Administrations, we must not let our spirit be broken – or let it fall as easy prey to those who would exult in the defense of anachronistic tendencies.
They underestimate our strength: our faith is sure, our resolve is firm, and our artistic will is strong.
Therefore, I shall see the artistic process through – whatever its outcome.
To those museum directors and cultural authorities who advised the President on the nomination of Ed Ruscha as the new Secretary of the US Department of Art & Technology, I pronounce this Manifesto:
Where Art can contribute to the Perpetual Fight against Authoritarianism, I shall confront the Powers that be, and answer, even under oath, before any and all questions put to me there, to peel away what is being said in order to Formulate the Truth… Beyond the Suspension of Disbelief. To those who might Listen... I say, Virtualization remains the Greatest Power on Earth! To that tremendous Power alone; we will Engage!
END 09:30 A.M. EST
Press Secretary of the US Department of Art & Technology
U.S. Department of Art and Technology, Washington, DC, USA